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Banner Churchill increases capacity, prepares for potential surge

By Thomas Ranson Nevada News Group
Banner Churchill Community Hospital has triage tents if needed.
Steve Ranson/LVN

Hospital has plan in place if surge occurs

Although the COVID-19 cases haven’t yielded any positive results so far in the county, Banner Churchill Community Health is making sure it’s prepared just in case a surge occurs.

“We do have a surge plan in place to respond if we see an increase in cases,” said Banner Churchill CEO Rob Carnahan, a former nurse who has been with Banner Health since 2011 and Banner Churchill since 2013. “We have prepared areas where we can care for patients who have COVID-19 in designated spaces separate from other patient care areas.”

Among the steps taken to ensure the hospital is prepared, Carnahan said the state of Nevada asked hospitals to increase their capacity by 150%, which means Banner Churchill can now care for 37 patients.

As another precaution, the hospital has triage tents available although Carnahan said they haven’t been needed at this point.

As of April 10, 69 tests were given at Banner Churchill (including NAS Fallon), Narag Fallon Family Clinic, Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe, yielding 62 negative results and seven pending. 

 “The tents were provided by the state and local government in an abundance of preparedness. We have not had need to use them yet, but they are ready to go,” said Carnahan, who also served in the U.S. Army as a medical specialist in Iraq.

As personal protective equipment (PPE), Carnahan said Banner continuously monitoring supplies and currently have enough to meet demand. While the hospital is prepared in case of an influx of cases, Carnahan stressed the importance of staying home and leaving for only essential reasons.

“Right now, the best message we have is for the community to continue to stay home,” he said. “This will help us better manage the pandemic. If you need to be out, make sure it’s for essential reasons.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preparation, symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough or shortness of breath. The CDC advises individuals to seek immediate medical attention for trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or the inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face. For other symptoms that are severe or concerning, the CDC recommends consulting with a medical provider, such as Banner Churchill.

For those who feel they meet the criteria for COVID-19, Carnahan said patients need to call the hospital first to be screened by a nurse practitioner, who will ask a series of questions provided by the state to determine whether that person needs to be tested. Instructions are provided on follow-up care, which may include a visit to the emergency room for a medical screening and test.

For all other cases, Carnahan advised patients to monitor symptoms and continue practicing social distancing in addition to proper hygiene etiquette. This includes hand washing for a minimum 20 seconds and coughing and sneezing into a tissue, and discarding, or into the inner elbow. 

For information, https://www.bannerhealth.com/

The LVN Facebook site posts the figures on a daily basis after receiving the information from Churchill County.